Wearing modest Jewish clothing (in Hebrew: tznius clothing) is very essential for orthodox Jewish women. Orthodox Jews train their girls from when they are very small to dress modestly.
The Midrash states the importance of modest clothing for women, (Bereishit Rabba 18:2) that when Hashem (God) created Chava, the first woman on universe, he told every body part “be modest”, “be modest”. In Deuteronomy (23:14) the verse states: “that he (G-d) will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you”.
The Talmud recalls a tale of a remarkable woman named Kimchis. Kimchis had seven sons and each served as kohen gadol (highest priest). When asked how she merited such great honor, she explained that she never exposed her hair, even in her own home. There are many more stories in Talmud about the greatness and importance of modesty.
What is modest Jewish clothing (tznius clothing)?
According to Jewish law a woman is forbidden from exposing any part of her body in public, besides her hands and face. Legs should be covered with tights or a dress, and from the knees and up should be covered with a dress. Regarding the arm, there are various opinions. Ultra-orthodox Jewish women only expose from the wrist bone and down, while more modern will only cover till the elbow. There are many Jewish stores selling modest clothing for women.
Modest long skirts
Orthodox Jewish women wear modest long skirts, because pants are forbidden for women according to Jewish law. Some lenient modern orthodox approve wearing pants at home but not in public. So, whenever you enter a Jewish celebration or wedding you will see the women and girls dressed in modest clothing, either with dresses longer than the knee, or with modest long skirts.
Knee covering also varies between sects within Orthodox Judaism. Modern orthodox will wear tights or any other legwear even if the legs are seen, as long as it is covered. Some ultra-orthodox Jewish women are very strict to wear thick leg covering with dark colors, so that no part of the leg can be see-through.
Modest Jewish clothing also won’t strike out any feminine part. Therefore tight fitted clothing or color striking clothing is avoided. While there is no exact law defining tight fitted, every orthodox Jewish women will try to dress the most modest possible.
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